Off the Hook: Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation Department plans to host “Family Learn to Fish” event to educate community on fishing methods and safety


Angela Qian

Family Learn to Fish participant catches a fish while his mom watches nearby. The Department of Natural Resources scheduled the event on a Free Fishing Day, which means that anglers don’t need a license to fish the state’s public waters. Participants also learned about ethics during the event, so they caught and released the fish.

Rhea Acharya and Grace Xu

On May 18, the Monon Community Center plans to host a “Family Learn to Fish” event at the Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation Department from 9 a.m. to noon. According to Erica Foreman, the Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation program supervisor in charge of Family Learn to Fish, the event will teach participants about safety, fishing equipment, fishing methods and end with an hour of fishing in a nearby lagoon. It will also allow for more of the Carmel community to gain exposure to fishing just in time for summer when many students have greater free time to pursue new hobbies.

Daniel Tocci, fishing enthusiast and sophomore, said while fishing isn’t often considered to be a common hobby, especially for high school students, he has still found fishing to be a big part of his life, largely because of the many benefits the activity can offer.

“I fish with my friends all the time and I find it really fun,” Tocci said. “It also brings you close to nature. It’s just fun spending time outdoors, and it also gives you a sense of pride when you catch a bigger fish.”

According to Foreman, fishing could actually lead to stronger social relationships, similar to what Tocci said about fishing with friends.

I think fishing allows for people to have the opportunity to connect with each other,” Foreman said. “It forces people to use teamwork and problem-solving skills. If the fish are not biting much, it can allow for long periods of quiet time for people to enjoy each other’s company.”

Yet for others, fishing may be an activity that they not only don’t enjoy but disagree with from their personal standpoints. In vegetarian and sophomore Nishita Prasad’s case, she said that she doesn’t plan on fishing any time soon.

“I think if people care about the environment, they shouldn’t do things that are bad for the environment like fishing,” Prasad said. “It literally kills fish.”

Tocci, however, said that from his personal experience, people tend to shy away from fishing not because of an ethical dilemma, but simply because they find fishing too “boring,” or that “fish are gross.”

He added that people who dislike fishing generally haven’t tried it enough to truly understand the activity, especially given the amount of patience involved. He said patience is one of the several skills he learned from fishing that were applicable to other aspects of his life.

“You have to learn patience to fish because you’re not going to go out and automatically catch fish,” Tocci said. “You have to stay outside for a long time, and you have to have endurance. That can be applicable in life too.”

Foreman agreed with Tocci and added that fishing isn’t simply about catching fish; it can teach skills useful in the real world as well.

“Fishing is a great way to relax and unplug. It can also be good exercise working out the shoulder, back and arm muscles. It can help reduce stress, increase self-esteem and confidence,” Foreman said. “People can learn how to read a map, learn safety skills around water, knot tying and fish identification.”

Tocci agreed with Foreman, adding that he has found fishing to be beneficial toward his mental health.

“My dad taught me how to fish (when I was 5 years old) and I always thought it was fun,” Tocci said. “Fishing is also kind of meditative so you get a lot of time to think when you’re fishing.”

Prasad conceded that there could be benefits to the activity, but said she disagreed with certain methods of fishing.

“I think net fishing is fine but if you’re putting holes in the fish and throwing them back in the water, that’s sketchy and I don’t like that,” Prasad said. “And you could still use your boat in other ways to have fun.”

However, Foreman said that she has found the benefits of fishing to outweigh the disadvantages and can even allow for greater appreciation of nature, in contrast to Prasad’s opinion.

“Fishing is great because it allows people to get outside and enjoy the natural world,” Foreman said. “I think people grow an appreciation for how native inhabitants had to survive off the land and learn to fish. It is a relaxing activity, but it can also be exciting when one catches a fish. Kids especially have so much fun looking at their fish and learning about the types of fish they catch. You get a great feeling seeing someone—kids or adults—catch a fish for the first time.”